Clinton County Voters OK New Jail & Law Center

CLINTON, Iowa — Nearly 74 percent of Clinton County voters passed a $22 million bond referendum on May 3 that will fund the new Clinton County jail, sheriff’s administrative offices and a 911 emergency communications center.

The replacement facility has been in the works since at least 2008 when a study of the current facility by the National Institution of Corrections (NIC) stated, “The current facility is outdated, antiquated and obsolete. It was a poor design in 1969 and remains so today,” according to the county website.

Constructing a new jail now can also help the county save and reduce costs for the taxpayers because it will reduce maintenance costs, less money will be spent on out-of county inmate housing and it will help the county avoid increased costs due to the Prison Rape Elimination Act that would have been required for the current facility.

The new facility will feature 96 beds and will be built on the current courthouse campus, according to the county website. Its proposed jail pod design follows the design trends used in other county jails across the county in which a podular design contains sections of cells arranged around a central control station. From there, correctional officers can monitor all housing units more easily. The pod design also allows for more adequate classifications, helping to separate felons from misdemeanors, males from females, juveniles from adults and sentenced inmates versus ones awaiting trial.

The current facility’s linear design has contributed to two completed suicides and assault on a correctional officer in the past as well as inmate escapes, according to the county website.

A key element of the new facility’s design includes its secure connection to the courthouse. The NIC study was critical of the fact that inmates were not separated from the general public when be transferred in the parking lot, courthouse and elevator. As such, a connecting glass walkway will offer a secure inmate transfer method from the new jail to the second floor of the existing courthouse. The use of glass allows the courthouse and its historic significance to still remain the focal point, according to the county website.